Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak admitted he admired Kepa Arrizabalaga and believed his problems at Chelsea would soon pass, speaking to the Times.

The career paths of both goalkeepers have certainly gone in different directions over the past few years.

Kepa went from being Chelsea’s club record signing and the most expensive ‘keeper in history, to being replaced by Edouard Mendy last September.

Chelsea Training and Press Conference
COBHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 22: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea during a training session at Chelsea Training Ground on February 22, 2021 in Cobham, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Oblak on the other hand has continued to stake a claim for the best goalie in world football, with very little in the way of opposition.

Madrid’s No 1 is set to face off against Kepa’s Chelsea later today in the Champions League knock-out stage.

Although they will be rivals on the night, Oblak had sympathy for the Spaniard’s situation at Stamford Bridge.

“Kepa’s a great goalkeeper,”, he said.

“When he was here in Spain, I really liked him and when he went to Chelsea, I like him as well. He maybe had some difficult moments.

“He knows what he’s capable of doing and I’m sure he believes in himself and now played two of the past four games and did great.

“It’s impossible to pay so big amount for a goalkeeper if he’s not a great one. He had some difficult moments but I’m sure that he’s going to pass this and show everyone that they misjudged him.”

Levante UD v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander
VALENCIA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 17: Jan Oblak of Atletico de Madrid looks on during the La Liga Santander match between Levante UD and Atletico Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia on February 17, 2021 in Valencia, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Chelsea probably thought they same when they forked out £71m (BBC Sport) to sign him from Athletico Bilbao in 2018.

After a decent first season, the £150,000 per-week (Spotrac) player has been in decline.

Chelsea’s Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 15, 2021. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PAUL CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Just for context, Atletico Madrid paid just £12.8m (Sky Sports) to buy Oblak from Benfica.  

He directly replaced Thibaut Courtois, who was returning to Chelsea after being out on loan in La Liga.

Courtios then joined Real Madrid, which prompted the Blues to lump on Kepa.

With Thomas Tuchel now in charge, the 26-year-old may have a slim chance of regaining ground on his lost career.

But those chances are pretty minute, as he has only played twice so far.

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